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Snubbing Scott and Billions in Federal Aid, Florida House GOP Reject Medicaid Expansion

| March 4, 2013

Richard Corcoran, the Land-O-Lakes Republican, chairs the House panel that may have signaled the death of Medicaid expansion in Florida, despite Gov. Rick Scott's and other experts' support of expansion. (Florida House)

Richard Corcoran, the Land-O-Lakes Republican, chairs the House panel that may have signaled the death of Medicaid expansion in Florida, despite Gov. Rick Scott’s and other experts’ support of expansion. (Florida House)

Only a few hours after Florida’s chief economist said the state can’t afford to leave billions of federal dollars sitting on the table, the House committee on the Affordable Care Act voted to do exactly that.

The 10-5 vote fell along party lines, as the Republicans on the committee said they didn’t trust the federal government to come through with the money, given the state of the federal budget. They also expressed an extreme distaste for the Medicaid program, saying it’s far inferior to private insurance.

A Senate committee studying the same issues has not yet voted, but the chairman, Sen. Joe Negron, sounded as though he is leaning toward voting for the expansion.

And a lobbyist for Associated Industries of Florida, which had remained neutral until now, spoke in favor of the expansion.

Here are the details:

Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research, laid out several scenarios based on different assumptions. But they all pointed in the same direction: Florida cannot afford NOT to expand Medicaid, she said.

That’s because the $26 billion in federal funds for Medicaid expansion offsets the costs of implementing the mandatory parts of the Affordable Care Act, Baker said. Most of those costs would fall on the private sector, she said.

“Expansion helps…by mitigating the effects of the mandatory provisions of the law,” Baker said.

The Senate committee’s numbers man, Orlando-area Republican David Simmons, told Baker that her numbers “make sense.” He had already figured out that the state’s employers would be hit if Florida doesn’t accept the federal funds that are being offered, he said.

“The burden on employers if we do not do Medicaid expansion is going to be significant,” he said.

Baker estimated that Florida would lose between $6 billion and $12 billion a year over the next 10 years if it says no to Medicaid expansion. That’s because the expansion is the only part of the Affordable Care Act that is voluntary.

The mandatory parts – that individuals and large businesses carry insurance or pay a penalty – will take effect regardless of the Legislature’s decision on Medicaid, she said. Meanwhile, almost one million low-income people who would have been covered by the new federal funds would remain uninsured, she said.

Currently Florida has just over four million uninsured, Baker said – about 21.4 percent. Under the health law’s provisions, counting Medicaid expansion, that will be cut to under 10 percent, she said.

The newly-covered Medicaid population would be those with incomes of 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less – about $15,000 for an individual. Most of those who would be brought into the program are adults who currently don’t qualify because they don’t have young children at home, Baker said.

Through their questions, some members of both committees indicated they were skeptical of the conclusions. Baker acknowledged there are a number of outcomes that can be forecast, depending on the assumptions used in economic modeling. She said she hopes to have more information by Thursday.

State Sen. Joe Negron, who chaired the joint session, indicated that he agrees with those who favor expanding Medicaid.

“In the end, the issues’s going to come down to weighing values, of having some form of insurance coverage available” for the uninsured, he said.

To those who predict calamity, he said, “Let’s not underestimate the human spirit.” Medicaid expansion may or may not be a good idea, he said, but it would be better to have 7 percent of Floridians uninsured than 21 percent.

Carol Gentry, Health News Florida

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17 Responses for “Snubbing Scott and Billions in Federal Aid, Florida House GOP Reject Medicaid Expansion”

  1. Sad Times says:

    Well, well, well…… and the stupidity just goes on and on!!

  2. John Boy says:

    Tea Baggers are again demonstrating their single issue ” Destroy the Country One State at a Time”. The reason they can do this is because of Gerrymandering of Districts not because of the desires of the majority.

    Well past the time to throw all these Idiots out for good.

  3. Keith says:

    I do have to agree with the GOP. Exactly where is the 26 billion dollars going to come from ? We are 16 trillion dollars in debt as a nation now. Doctors are leaving Florida at a rate of 18 per week. And if you do take the “ghost” money, is Florida going to be a SLAVE to the Obama administration ?

  4. emile says:

    Do they understand just what 21% means in terms of cost to the taxpayer? When an uninsured patient gets sick they go to the emergency room, and we taxpayers pick up the tab. Way to go, Florida Legislators.

  5. JR says:

    Wow! His own Republican Party just kicked him out the door to give Democrate Crist an open invitation to become Governor. Good!

  6. bq says:

    You get what you vote for. Way to go GOP, I’ll bet all the old white men are happy! Your party is very quickly becoming the party of the past. Change or never get elected again.

  7. Tater says:

    All progressive liberals should be “forced” to live above the Mason-Dixon Line. Just like we are being “forced” to accept ObamaCare. We as a FREE country are DOOMED !!

  8. Seadog says:

    Upton Sinclair
    This is a very simple and indisputable truth. When you deny sick people healthcare because they don’t have enough money to pay for it you are indirectly committing an act of murder.

    Fascism is capitalism plus murder.

    • Magnolia says:

      Seadog, does that include abortion? Because in my view, that’s murder.

      Call this what you like. Show us how you’re going to pay for it. With other people’s tax money?

      • Bot says:

        I worked full time paid for insurance my whole life rarely using it. I just recently lost my job after getting hurt AT WORK, afternoon years of trying to get better. You are already paying for people who don’t work and never have. I don’t want to leach off the system the rest of my life but can no longer physically do what I one did. Because I don’t have young kids and a few years too young to retire my two options are Medicaid or pay full price for insurance which of course I can’t afford or Medicaid which Florida chose to opt out of, Turning there backs on billions of dollars. Fast forward a couple years if nothing changes. My now excellent credit rating (over 800) will be tanked, I’ll loose my house, won’t be able to return to work to pay taxes so your kids can ride free bus to free school to educate your child and you will be stuck supporting me the rest of my life. Your theory is penny wise pound foolish.

  9. confidential says:

    Excuse me “Anonymous” but our SS is NOT government aid! We paid up front thru our life of labor contributing with every pay check SS deduction, what happens is that our legislators have been digging their paws in that cookie jar to the tune of 3 trillions, I believe and never refunded SS fund for what they borrowed or stole, whatever you want to call it!.
    Now the fund is tight of course, just give us our trillions back do not conserve it in your pockets. Why the heck all these brainwashers want to make believe that Social Security is aid, hand out, or whatever they want to baptize it now? Is NOT aid, we all contributed up front to it! Maybe those dudes bath mouthing the Social Security System never contributed to it being self employed and or while tax cheating but we all hard working middle class and poor did. So keep your lies and hands out of Social Security. In all my hard working life 38% minimum of my earnings went for taxes including my Social Security contribution….Did you pay yours or as an self employed contractor you didnt? Or maybe Anonymous, you are one like Romney paying 14% in taxes only, while sheltering your millions overseas and of course, no need for SS contribution then? Lets stop the conservative BS!
    Enough that I have to get an ear full of it on Tuesday’s around 6.13 PM in one of local FM in the 16… station while driving my car, if my dial ends up by error in that cesspool.!

  10. snapperhead says:

    Only in Amerika can you be pro-gun, pro death sentence, pro war, anti universal healthcare and call yourself “pro-life”

  11. confidential says:

    You said it perfect Snapper! Kudos to you!

  12. Cabreia says:

    So the elected. ‘ leaders’, would, rather proliferate guns for every teacher at a tremendous, cost and added stress to being a dedicated, underpaid. Educator?

    Fuurthermore, if people don’t have healthcare, incluuing children, what good, or how much so called security and education even makes a difference at all?

    Could this be more about, poiticals shaking hands in the dark, rather than intelligent reasoning?

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